By Kate Brex
Herald Staff Writer

 SUSSEX BOROUGH — The now-defunct Sussex Community Center, former home of the borough’s
senior citizen’s center, was a stately vaudeville theater circa around 1900.  It may once again open its
doors as a legitimate theater, if the Tri-State Actors Theater and borough officials can come to terms.

Paul Meacham, producing director of the theater company, asked the mayor and council Monday night
for a prelininary letter of approval, which would state that borough officials support a non-profit theater
in their town.

The mayor and council voted unanimously to offer Meacham and his company a letter stating that they
would favorably support a theater company within the borough, noting that a more lasting commitment
would be forthcoming after the necessary site and building inspections had been completed.

According to borough attorney Joseph Pojanowski, the senior center had been shut down due to leaks
and water damage. ‘The structure was not conducive to housing our senior citizens,” he said.  The center
was no longer a  viable and healthy environment, he said.

Meacham said the theater company already had the financial backing of the Dodge Foundation, one of the
largest funding organizations for the arts in New Jersey.  “We have been given a grant of $50,000 [a grant
over two seasons contingent upon meeting goals set by  he foundation and Tri-State] from them for our play
productions,” he said.  “They believe in us and I  certainly think they would believe in a renovation project for
a once-thriving theater.”  Meacham explained that [some] foundations exist specifically for the purpose of
refurbishing and renovating  old and historic theaters. He said that he has been in contact with several already,
but before he could go further, he needed official borough support.

Tri-State presently produces its plays at the Garris Center in Branchville and at Wallkill Valley Regional
High School in Hardyston. The group is a theater company in search of a permanent home and believes
they have found it in the Sussex Community Center, Meacham said.

According to Mayor Peter Horvath, Tri-State’s willingness to lease the old theater building would be
mutually beneficial.  It would further the borough’s reclamation process started several years ago and
answer  the theater company’s search for a permanent home, he said.

“It would benefit the businesses, restaurants, shops and galleries on Main Street,” he said.  “The theater
would be a welcome addition.  I am very excited about the prospect.”

“It is a win-win situation,” said Councilman Frank Dykstra.”